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Are you sick of hitting snooze and putting the rest of your day on hold?
The common advice is to simply pretend it isn’t an option, but for anyone who has a snooze button, they know this is no advice at all.
Below we list ten proven strategies that will help you kick your snooze habit, but first…
In a word, yes. Hitting the snooze button does more harm than simply delaying the start of your day. By hitting snooze, you actually make yourself more groggier than you would be than if you had woken up in the first place.
Here’s the science: Most snooze buttons are set to last around 9 minutes. That amount of time isn’t enough for you to complete a full sleep cycle, so your alarm ends up jolting you back to wakefulness while you’re still transitioning between sleep stages. As a result, when you finally do get out of bed, you experience what scientists call “ sleep inertia.”
Sleep inertia has real consequences. Research shows that besides grogginess, your memory, judgement, and reaction time are all affected, and it can take up to 4 hours to go away. That spells trouble for all those sleepy commuters who get on the road shortly after waking up.
Anecdotally, we’re aware of the negative impact of sleep inertia. The majority of Americans recognize that waking up after snoozing has lasting effects that extend through the rest of their day, impairing their concentration, work, and overall sense of wellbeing.
More than half of Americans admit to hitting the snooze button, to the tune of nearly 4 months of our lives wasted snoozing. It’s no surprise only a third of us rate our wake experience as satisfactory.
Despite its popularity, snoozing creates a vicious cycle. The more you make a habit out of hitting snooze, the likelier you are to confuse your brain and your internal body clock. You want your brain to learn a conditioned response to your alarm – when the alarm goes off, it’s time for your brain to wake you up. But if you keep snoozing, you prevent this response from ever developing, thus defeating the purpose of the alarm. Worse, people typically aren’t consistent with the amount of time they snooze each day, which creates even more confusion.
Plus, that extra sleep you get is fragmented, so you’re not getting much benefits from it. The better solution is to set your alarm for the last possible moment before you need to wake up, and then wake up.
Here are ten tips to help you do just that.
If you keep your alarm by your bed, you don’t really want to stop hitting snooze. You’re making it far too easy to keep this bad habit alive.
Instead, put your alarm somewhere else that will force you to get up out of bed in order to turn it off. Once you’re up and moving, the likelier you are to stay up and moving.
For best results, place your alarm in another room, so you have to travel far to turn it off.
Schedule something fun to do early in the morning. Ideally, this is some sort of exercise you can do outside in the sunshine, to further help wake you up. Raise the stakes by only allowing yourself to do this favorite activity if you wake up on time. For example, you can’t keep reading that suspenseful page-turner or see who liked your latest Facebook post, unless you woke up on time.
Would you rather grab a few extra Zs? Change your alarm tone to be a motivating song that makes you want to seize the day.
Similarly, iPhones let you name your alarm so you can see a motivational reminder on the screen when it goes off each morning, such as “Wake up, sunshine!” or “Today is a very important day!” If you followed tip #1 above, consider putting a motivational sign by the resting place for your alarm.
You know how alive you feel after a vigorous set of just 10 jumping jacks? Hop out of bed and jump around to the motivating song you set for your alarm in tip #2.
If motivating yourself to get moving proves challenging, your alarm can provide the motivation. The Wake N Shake Alarm clock requires you to physically shake your iPhone in order to get the alarm to stop, and the Clocky alarm clock rolls off your bedside table and wheels around your bedroom, so you have to get up and chase it to turn it off.
Schedule different alarm ringtones or songs for various days, so you don’t become immune to the sound of your alarm.
Place multiple alarms in different parts of your home, and change their placement each night. It will be a fun scavenger hunt each morning as you race to turn them all off.
When it comes to alarms, you have more than sound at your disposal.
Light is a powerful wakefulness device. Many sunrise simulator alarm clocks gradually increase in intensity to mimic the effect of dawn. Your brain reacts to the light and realizes it’s time to wake up.
If you don’t want to spend money on a special alarm clock, set one of your alarms by the window, so you have the chance to open the blinds and let the real sunshine in each morning.
Alternately, let your sense of smell wake you up. Some air diffusers can be scheduled to go off each morning. Just be sure to choose scents that are invigorating, like citrus, rather than sleep-inducing.
Or, set your coffee maker to start brewing in sync with your alarm clock each morning. Researchers found that the aroma of coffee has antioxidant effects that both relieved stress and woke up rats that were sleep-deprived.
When you’re sleep-deprived, the snooze button is even more tempting than usual.
Make sure you’re getting 7 to 8 hours each night, and aim to fall asleep and wake up at around the same times every day. If you’re getting quality sleep on a regular basis, you’ll naturally feel less drowsy upon waking.
You may be making things too hard on yourself. Some people are night owls. If you’re one of those people, don’t create unrealistic expectations of waking up at the strike of dawn every morning.
Set a realistic alarm time (the last possible time before you need to wake up, ensuring you get maximum sleep), and gradually adjust your schedule in 15-minute increments until you achieve your desired sleep and wake time. As you gain success, you’ll feel happier around sleep, which will reduce stress and make things easier in the morning.
Speaking of changing the time, the specific moment your alarm goes off in the morning may be partly to blame for your snooze problem.
During the second half of the night, you spend increasingly more time in deep sleep and REM sleep, both of which are harder to wake from (incidentally, this is why long naps can make you feel so sleepy). Unfortunately, because of how sleep cycles work, many people’s alarms go off while they’re still in deep sleep or REM, causing that sense of grogginess known as “sleep inertia.”
Fortunately, there are several sleep tracking apps designed to track your sleep cycle, and then time your alarm to go off when you’re in the light sleep stage of your sleep cycle. The app uses the microphone and accelerometer on your smartphone to monitor your breath and body movements (even your heartbeat if you use it with a fitness tracker or smartwatch device). It combines this information, along with how long you’ve been asleep, to determine a 30 minute window when you’re most likely to be in light sleep in the morning, at which point it will set off your alarm.
Treat your bedroom as a place just for sleep and sex. That means it is not a place for work, socializing, or exercise. Using your bedroom just for sleep will train your mind to view it as a place of rest, not activity.
Similarly, start seeing your alarm as a firm commitment you made to yourself about the time you’ll wake up, not something that’s up for negotiation. Arguing with yourself is self-defeating and exhausting – clearly not a way you want to start your day.
Devote the hour before bedtime to relaxation. Avoid all of the following during that hour: heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, drugs, exercise, and electronics use.
Instead, take a warm bath, use aromatherapy, practice meditation or light yoga, talk with a housemate, or read a book under soft lighting.